Meeting APAC’s future healthcare challenges by advancing data-driven healthcare

Data-driven healthcare can help us prepare now for the healthcare challenges of tomorrow, according to Ahmed Elhusseiny, Area Head of APAC at Roche Pharma. In a recent interview with HIMMS TV, Ahmed explained how he sees digital technologies and data strategies as essential to the ability of healthcare systems to cope with the “silent epidemic” of aging populations and rising incidences of non-communicable diseases.

Ahmed – who has spent almost a decade in leadership roles with Roche – recognizes the potential of leveraging data and technology to both improve outcomes for patients and, importantly, to strengthen health systems and help them to become more resilient and sustainable. In particular, he emphasizes the value that the effective use of health data can add by creating opportunities to make healthcare more personalized and improve the quality and sustainability of care at every step of the patient journey – from detection to diagnosis, treatment and monitoring. He is also optimistic that health data has the potential to create new opportunities for intervening early to prevent disease.

Working together to lay the groundwork for data-driven health

While the potential for data-driven healthcare to play a part in tackling the rising demand and increasing pressure that health systems face seems increasingly clear, the readiness of health systems to realize this potential is far less certain. Ahmed makes a strong case for stakeholders across the healthcare ecosystem to work together – as they did during the COVID-19 pandemic – to ensure systems are ready for change.

He argues, however, that digital and data-driven healthcare can only “thrive in systems that are truly receptive to it.” Technology and data are “very exciting, but what is really important is the ecosystem that enables it.” He says partnership and collaboration will be key to making that happen.

He gave an example from the Philippines and Indonesia, where Roche is partnering with local cancer institutions and governments on tele-mentoring programs to upskill nurses so they can provide better cancer care for patients in communities where care coverage is insufficient.

“What’s amazing is the scalability,” he said. “If you do it for 1,000, you can do it for 100,000.” This is just one of the advantages of digital technology

Partnership is also key to initiatives in Singapore and Australia, where Roche is working with national cancer institutes to pilot Comprehensive Genomic Sequencing programs to better identify tumor types and generate data which will ensure patients get the best and most targeted therapies with the potential to improve patient outcomes

Ensuring data security and interoperability

Improved cross-border data flow is one of the biggest opportunities for health data beyond local initiatives according to Ahmed but he cautions that it comes with huge challenges. Privacy and security are “one of the highest priorities, and data acquisition and transfer must be done “in an uncompromisingly safe and secure way.” Interoperability between systems and across geographies also remains a significant challenge which stakeholders need to overcome.

Remaining optimistic for the future, he concludes: “I believe a lot of the technology exists today, and there will be more to come. The challenge is how we develop those systems, the alliances, the trust and the collaborations to realize its full potential .”

The Precision Public Health Asia Society and the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at the National University of Singapore partnered to offer strategies for healthcare organizations to enable a seamless data-sharing ecosystem. Read the white paper here.

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